There are about thirty thousand diseases known to human beings, and about three-quarters have no treatment of those. In addition, you have an aging population worldwide. Many more chronic disorders are coming through, and these patients need new therapies, which are offered continuously. So, medical professionals see a massive change in therapeutics coming up, and doctors are now on the cusp of that change. You are getting multiple disciplines in brand new technologies and much more understanding of the biological science behind them. And the net result of all this is that it should introduce new therapeutic modes to the general public.
So, there is a revolution going on in medicine where medical professionals want personalized health care. They want to understand human bodies, the individual nature of those, and for that, they need sensors, but not just for the outside. Instead, they need sensors on the inside.
Therefore, nanoscience and nanotechnology are making new sorts of devices that will revolutionize medicine. This is the overall concept of personalized medicine.
When you go to a doctor, they always ask you how you are feeling, and part of the reason is that they have no machine which can measure how you are feeling. So it is about creating technologies that read that out and do something much more profound, like actually watching how you’re living and then starting to warn you when something is going wrong.
Now, on a very future scale, what do medical professionals want to do?
So, here may be the answer is that they want to put nanomachines inside human bodies. They want them to go and scavenge away, repair parts that are broken, remove clots. So this is a relatively large-scale intervention that surgeons have to push something into your body.
Humans are living longer and longer, and life expectancy has risen substantially. However, with the introduction of antibiotics to our tissues over the last century or so, the quality of our tissues has deteriorated with time, which means that as we get older, we require more and more replacement components. This replacement is not only important for survival but also our quality of life. Tissue engineering professionals use scaffolds to create artificial tissue. Tissues are made up of two components.
- and the extracellular matrix (ECM).
So these scaffolds act as a substitute for the extracellular matrix, and by adding cells to them, you can engineer a new tissue.
Other organisms have enormous powers to regenerate. For example, they can regenerate limbs that are lost or hearts that are damaged. But, unfortunately, humans don’t have that ability.
When somebody has a heart attack, part of their heart muscles die. As a result, they can lose a billion cardiomyocytes, and the heart never repairs them; a scar replaces them. Therefore, a professional wants to develop a tissue-engineered cardiac patch made out of stem cells that can replace and restore normal function to the heart. They are using embryonic stem cells that can form heart muscle and all the other structures of the heart, and what they want to do is improve heart function not just by a couple of percent but entirely back to normal.
The future is very bright for regenerative medicine because other professionals work on other organs like kidneys, livers, repairing damaged brains and even spinal cords.
Immunotherapy is revolutionizing the way in which cancer can be treated. Professionals are trying to develop killer cells. They are the cells that recognize and destroy both cancer and infected cells in your body.
This is a new type of technology called CRISPR, or genome editing. This new technology allows professionals to essentially rewrite the DNA within all human cells, correcting mistakes in that DNA. So, CRISPR is essentially the exploitation of an antiviral defense system in all sorts of different species of bacteria. Scientists have taken components of that to rewrite DNA in all manner of cells and all manner of organisms. So, Gene editing is essentially a two-part system.
- GPS location
- Pair of molecular scissors.
The GPS locator directs the molecular scissors to a specific part of the DNA to cut at that point. Then, the cutting, the removal, and the replacement of DNA can occur.
Once the cells are corrected in the petri dish, they can be put back into the patient. This will not be therapeutic for a particular disease, or it will alleviate the disease that could potentially be a complete cure for that disease for that individual. This technology allows doctors to look down within a cell and tinker or understand what’s going on, how cells work at the most fundamental of levels, and that allows doctors to turn a cell into a computer, for example, by recording information into a cell to program cells to do specific things.